Open water Swimming dictionary

This is a list of words/phrases that we use regularly when discussing swimming.  As you will see from the below it is probably not that useful!

Thanks to the usual Team Mermaids support crew for suggestions:  Brian, pivo, Hilary, Lisa, Suz and Kate.



Acclimatisation: The act of screaming/whinging upon entering freezing (see below explanation) water.  Also, the act of preparing your body and mind ready for the cold water.  This can involve such activities as cold showers, sleeping with just a sheet in winter and (the money saving) no heating for the winter.

Alpha males: males swimmers who can’t accept that a girl might be faster than them and therefore insist on pushing off the wall right in front of you.   This species is found a lot at Crystal Palace.

Bathers: Term for swimming costume when in the Channel Islands.

Bathophobia: Fear of a bath due to being confined to such a small swimming space that is generally too hot… Nah only kidding.  The fear of the deep.   You know that moment we all have where you can’t see the bottom.  It happens to us all where suddenly you are overcome with thoughts regarding what is down “there”.   It comes from the ancient Greek for “deep” – bathos.

Blowing-up: being unable to carry on swimming at a certain speed having set off too fast.  Ask Pivo about this.

Bonus rest: additional rest taken between sets when there is some particularly interesting gossip to discuss.

Buoy (pronounced: BOY in uk and BOO-EE in US):  Large plastic thing that NEVER appears and when it finally does often attacks you for swimming too close to it.

Cake:  The food of gods that helps you fuel and recover from long swims.

Channel rules: the rules governing an English Channel swim.  Hat, goggles & costume.  No touching the boat.  They (the CSPF and CSA) love a man in speedos.

Crocs: ghastly footwear that many a channel swimmer insists they NEED to wear. NO.YOU.DON’T.

Dip’n’Dine: a swim followed by food with friends.

Double Hatting: When the water is Freezing (see below) and you need to wear two hats to keep warm.

Drafting: You can’t escape it, even if you don’t want to do it, someone will do it to you.  Kick them in the face.. go on!*

Dry Robe: popular brand of post-swimming warmth.

DYST: ‘did you swim today’ Facebook group where the majority of the time people post interesting summaries/photos about what swimming they have done of note that day.

Feeding: another name for chucking a few jelly babies in the general direction of a swimmer.

Freezing: any water below 18C.

Jellyfish Soup – Miles and miles of jellyfish.   Large or small… stingers or non-stingers.  Jellyfish Soup causes you to curse and swear lots and seek immediate exit route from water.

(The) Jellyfish Crawl – the latest dance craze sweeping the world and also the slowed down swimming style that is adopted when swimming through Jellyfish Soup (see above).

Killer Whales: The “affectionate” term used by a core group of skin swimmers to refer to wetsuited swimmers.

Like a bath: any water above 18C.

Lube: normally in the form of Vaseline, bodyglide or channel grease.  Helps prevent chaffing and the resultant questions from work colleagues around how aggressive a kisser your husband is.

Marathon swim: Anything over and including 10km.

Oceans 7:  Not to be confused with Oceans 11, 12 and 13.  A wish list of the craziest long-distance sea swims that exist around the Globe.  For people who think swimming the English Channel is too easy.

Pool crawl: visiting a number of pools on the same day for swims.  This term originates from the phrase “pub crawl” only it is way cooler.

Pyramid of Pain: 1 minute hard swim, 1 minute rest, 2 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 3 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 4 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 5 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 6 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 5 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 4 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 3 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 2 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 1 minute hard swim.  I don’t think I need to explain why it is called the pyramid of pain.  Renamed the “Christmas Tree of Pain” around Christmas.

Relay: A race where a team of people swim a certain distance each.  This used to mean a serious competition between teams but now is more likely to mean that we will be competing using flip flops as hand paddles.

Running: Like swimming but on land and not as fun and much harder.

Single Arm Drill: Where you have to swim free style with one arm with the other arm down by your side.  A drill so hard it makes grown men want to cry.

Swimmers Beach: the unofficial name of the beach in Dover harbour where most channel swimmers train during the summer.

T10: a 10 minute time trial where you have to swim as far as you can in 10 minutes.  Normally leaves everyone in pieces and shouting at Dan from SwimForTri.  Poor Dan.. (Note: Katie wrote that.. sod Dan (Manda)).


*please don’t really kick someone in the face!



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